Update: Read our review of Citrus Blast and discover that it does taste like Squirt!
Pepsi is rolling out a new grapefruit-inspired beverage called Citrus Blast, apparently targeted at the likes of Coke’s Fresca and Fanta Grapefruit, as well as Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s Squirt.
Looking at filings with the US Patent and Trademark Office, there are some weird entries. For example, trademark requests for both “Citrus Blast” (#85192888) and “Diet Citrus Blast” (#85192887) were filed on December 8, 2010, but then “abandoned because the applicant filed an express abandonment” by December 14, 2010, just two days later. In this case, it was “PepsiCo Corporation” who applied for the trademarks.
The next day, December 9, 2010, these trademarks were once again applied for, again as “Citrus Blast” (#85193898) and “Diet Citrus Blast” (#85193906), with both proceeding along as being “Published for Opposition” on March 1, 2011. Here’s the goofy part. For this second set of trademark filings, the owner is listed as “The Concentrate Manufacturing Company of Ireland Corporation, Ireland Corner House, 20 Parliament Street, Hamilton, Bermuda”. Some research revealed that this is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PepsiCo, serving as “a worldwide supplier of ingredients and concentrates to bottling agents.” Pepsi seems to use to them license flavors of their international brands and a couple odds and ends. For example, Manzanita Sol as well as their old Tava brand were trademarked through this subsidiary. They also seem to control the international, non-US trademarks of 7Up and 7Up Free via The Concentrate Manufacturing Company of Ireland.
This just makes you sort of wonder what’s so different about Citrus Blast that they went this route of trademarking vs. using PepsiCo as the owner. Could there be international plans for Citrus Blast? Is there something going on regarding rights or ownership of that name that required a Bermuda holding company to be used. Maybe it’s the name of an energy drink flavor elsewhere? The mysteries never cease!
You might wonder why Pepsi all of the sudden needed to have a grapefruit-type drink in its lineup to compete with the likes of Squirt. Well, it all goes back to 2009 when both Coke and Pepsi were on this kick to buy their largest bottlers and merge them into respective corporate cultures (The Pepsi Bottling Group and PepsiAmericas for Pepsi, Coca-Cola Enterprises for Coke). When that was taking place, both companies had to renegotiate with Dr Pepper Snapple Group for the rights to carry Dr Pepper and other drinks, since DPSU has relationships with those bottlers already.
In the end, what ended up happening is that both Pepsi and Coke paid Dr Pepper Snapple Group a ton of money to retain distribution rights for Dr Pepper in the territories where they previously handled the beverage. However, if you read the fine print, you also found that DPSU got some rights back as part of the deal. For example, Coke surrendered some rights to sell Squirt, Canada Dry, Schweppes and Cactus Cooler, while Pepsi surrendered Sunkist, Squirt, Vernors and Hawaiian Punch. Notice which drink is mentioned in both cases?
Thus, Citrus Blast seems to be Pepsi’s way of fueling that niche since they no longer have the rights to distribute Squirt. At least, that would be my speculation.
Looking at the package design and the name itself, could they have gotten any more generic and boring? One look at that and you instantly think “knockoff store brand,” not something from the same folks who brought you Mountain Dew. The fonts and style look like a mid-2000s Sierra Mist (anyone remember Sierra Mist Lemon Squeeze?), complimented by some cheap clip art. Even the name itself has “blah” written all over it. It’s going to be interesting to see how they market this flavor, because you are already starting in a hole with a name and design like this.
Pepsi has some information available on their product facts website, which supports the label’s proclamation that both the regular and diet versions will be caffeine free. The official description they provide is as follows:
A whole new twist on Citrus
A deliciously light, crisp and clean-tasting citrus soda with a splash of real grapefruit juice. The combination of bubbles and fresh citrus flavor makes this caffeine free beverage extra refreshing and thirst-quenching
The regular version via 20 oz bottle contains 240 calories, 110 mg sodium, 64 g carbs (and sugars), and overall features 1% “juice”.
Carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, grapefruit juice concentrate, modified food starch, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), glycerol ester of rosin, natural flavor, potassium sorbate (preserves freshness), calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor)
Diet Citrus Blast, again in a 20 oz bottle, isn’t zero cal, as it’s listed as having 10 calories. Along with the use of grapefruit juice concentrate (1% juice), it will be sweetened by the popular combo of aspartame (177 mg) and acesulfame potassium (or Ace-K, 44 mg). It will also have 115 mg sodium, less than 1 g carbs (and sugars), and like the original, features 1% “juice”.
Diet Citrus Blast
Carbonated water, citric acid, grapefruit juice concentrate, aspartame, modified food starch, sodium citrate, natural flavor, sodium benzoate (preserves freshness), pectin, glycerol ester of rosin, acesulfame potassium, potassium sorbate (preserves freshness), calcium disodium edta (to protect flavor)